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Biden promotes small business assistance in Pennsylvania.

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Biden promotes small business assistance in Pennsylvania.
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Biden promotes small business assistance in Pennsylvania.

Biden promotes small business assistance in Pennsylvania.

 

President Joe Biden visited a minority-owned flooring company in suburban Philadelphia to explore how his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan would benefit small companies and to put a face to those who have suffered through the pandemic.

The visit to Smith Flooring Inc. on Tuesday was Biden’s first stop on a cross-country administration roadshow aimed at publicizing and taking credit for the virus relief package, which also included his vice president and his wife.

During his visit to the tiny union shop that would benefit from the relief, Biden made a sly dig at Republicans, saying, “It took some loud, powerful voices to get this done.” “And it’s not like it got 100 votes to pass. It was a close call.”

While Biden was in Pennsylvania for the first stop on his “Help is Here” tour, Vice President Kamala Harris and her partner, Doug Emhoff, were in Colorado on Tuesday, reinforcing the small business theme.

Lorena Cantarovici, who started making empanadas in her garage after emigrating from Argentina, told Harris and Emhoff about how her small shop developed over the years into three Maria Empanada locations but was forced to lay off staff when the coronavirus hit during a business roundtable in Denver.

She reported that 80 percent of her team returned as a result of previous relief efforts, but that it would take two years to return to full capacity and “recover all of this loss.” By leaving with empanadas in tow, Harris and Emhoff did their part.

More than 90 percent of the artisans represented by Gabriela Salazar’s Colorado Artisans in Denver are unemployed or receiving unemployment benefits, according to Salazar. Salazar, a 30-year small business owner, told Harris that the Small Business Administration’s assistance has “held me afloat,” but that “more is needed.”

Meanwhile, Smith Flooring in Pennsylvania had 23 employees at peak periods but now has just 12 employees. The loan will be used to help attract employees and update technology. Borrowers who follow such conditions, such as allocating at least 60% of the proceeds to payroll expenditures, are liable for forgiveness.

In his talk with the owners of Smith Floors, Biden repeatedly inquired about “what else” his administration could do to assist small businesses like theirs.

The Senate confirmed Isabel Guzman, Biden’s nominee to head the Small Business Administration, on Tuesday in Washington. She is expected to play a crucial role in the relief bill’s implementation.

Biden is attempting to illustrate how the assistance package will change the country by halving child poverty, stimulating record levels of hiring, and distributing funds to parents, teachers, and state and local governments. It’s a stark contrast to the beginning of Biden’s presidency, when vaccination targets were ambitious and Americans were warned that the country would not return to normal until Christmas.

According to the Biden administration, the pandemic has forced the closure of 400,000 small businesses, with millions more struggling to stay afloat. A $28 billion grant program to fund restaurants and drinking establishments is part of his assistance package. It also provides $15 billion in grant money that can be used in some way.

The trip to Smith Flooring was intended to emphasize that point. During the pandemic, the company’s sales dropped by about 20%. It recently qualified for a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan over a two-week period when the Biden administration restricted the program to companies with 20 or less workers.

Harris also had a virtual conversation with the owners of a vaccine clinic in Fort Lupton, Colorado.

Because of a technical problem with the government plane that flew the vice president to Las Vegas and Los Angeles on Monday, the second day of his tour to publicize the virus relief was canceled. The bulk of her aides, Secret Service, and a small group of reporters were forced to board a crowded cargo plane to carry her to Denver on a smaller backup plane.

Harris cancelled her visit to the vaccine clinic, Plan De Salud Del Valle Inc., due to the plane problem and instead spoke with the clinic’s staff via Zoom. She thanked their efforts, praising the clinic’s focus on supporting minority groups in getting vaccinated.

“From the beginning of this, the President and I have made it one of our highest priorities to ensure that we are taking into account racial inequalities and that we provide people on the ground with the tools they need to achieve equal outcomes,” she said.

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